When discussing the topic of chemotherapy, patients have many questions and perhaps some misinformation about what they should expect. While chemotherapy is used to treat different types of cancers, not all chemotherapy is the same. Over time, there have been significant and meaningful advances in medical oncology, and some of those therapeutic agents have better outcomes and fewer side effects than before.
To help educate our patients, here are some of the more common misconceptions about chemotherapy:
1. There is only one kind of chemotherapy used to treat all kinds of cancer
There are many types of chemotherapy available, each designed to target different types of cancers. Chemotherapy works in various ways, including:
• Destroying cancer cells
• Shrinking tumours
• Relieving advanced cancer symptoms
2. Chemotherapy causes you to lose your hair
Although hair loss is a common effect of chemotherapy, not every patient will experience it. Hair loss itself is not an indicator of how successful a cancer therapy treatment may be.
3. Chemotherapy causes weight loss
While some chemotherapy treatments may result in weight loss, other treatments can make a patient gain weight. Changes in weight can be correlated to cancer in general, and not necessarily attributed to chemotherapy.
4. Chemotherapy is only administered intravenously
Most people associate chemotherapy with an IV infusion, but chemotherapy can also come in different forms of administration, such as oral (by mouth) or topical applications.
5. Chemotherapy causes severe nausea and vomiting
In the past, chemotherapy greatly disrupted a patient’s life and was often associated with intense nausea and vomiting during and after treatment. These days, some chemotherapeutic is designed to minimize nausea and vomiting, or reduce other side effects and symptoms.
6. Chemotherapy is the only option in treating cancers
While chemotherapy is a proven way to treat some forms of cancer, it is not the only effective approach to cancer therapy. At our clinic, Dr. Schlee works alongside medical doctors, nurses, nutritionists, and counsellors to provide a comprehensive approach to your health.